A pilot scheme in Sefton to enhance cervical screening tests for women has now been rolled out across England.
Sefton was one of six areas involved in the pilot study which tests women for the presence of high risk human papilloma virus (HPV) which has been strongly linked to the development of cervical cancer. Before now, the HPV test was only done if abnormal cells were found in the smear sample. NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG both took part in the pilot.
HPV screening makes no difference to how the screening sample is taken but women with a negative HPV test can be reassured that they are at extremely low risk of developing cervical cancer so is beneficial to Sefton residents.
Dr Debbie Harvey, a Macmillan GP from NHS South Sefton CCG, said: “We are proud to be one of the first to run with the HPV testing and we are so pleased that it’s been rolled out across England now so that each screening is tested for it automatically.
“It surprises me how many women don’t go for smear tests and our GPs and practice nurses across Sefton are always encouraging patients to attend their appointment. With the new HPV testing 600 new cases of cervical cancer could be prevented per year which is great news.”
According to a survey carried out by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, one in three women over 50 has delayed or not attended their cervical screening test, which should take place every five years. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust surveyed 1,000 women over 50.
The average time women put off getting screened was more than two years but one in 10 delayed their test for more than five years.
Across the whole of the UK, women are invited for cervical screening between the ages of 25 and 64. Women aged 25-49 are invited every three years and women aged 50-64 are invited every five years. In England, all girls aged 12 to 13 are offered HPV vaccination as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme. The vaccine protects against the High Risk Human Papilloma Virus strains.
Women can make an appointment with their local GP when they receive a letter or ring the surgery to check when they are due a screening test. Alternatively, you can make an appointment at your local sexual health clinic.
They can also make an appointment to be screened at one of Sefton’s sexual health service clinics by calling 01704 513303.
For more information on cervical screening please visit: www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cervical-screening-test/Pages/Introduction.aspx